Extreme are a band who eluded me back at their peak. I had all the albums but never had a chance to see the band live, which I have always regretted, so a chance to see the guys playing the whole of the ‘Pornograffitti’ album live on this tour was not to be missed. There is an old adage though which says that you should never meet your heroes as you may be disappointed and perhaps the same can be said about old bands, can a reformed Extreme recapture the magic of old?
On arrival it looked like many were keen to find out as the hall looked just short of capacity and as the lights dimmed the anticipation was high. The PA belted out the intro tape heralding the entrance of the band and the start of the ‘Pornograffitti’ album which was to be played in its original running order.
As the guys kicked off with the opening track ‘Decadence Dance’ it quickly became obvious that there were sound issues with the bass resonating and drowning out just about everything else. ‘Li’l Jack Horny’ and ‘When I’m President’ followed and the sound got louder and more distorted.
Gary Cherone was bouncing about the front of the stage but his interaction with the crowd was a bit muted, it looked as though the intervening years had been tough, maybe it was the strain of the Van Halen stint that aged him? Nuno Bettencourt has changed little though and his fret board dexterity was as impressive as ever whilst Pat Badger was solid on the ever booming bass.
‘Get The Funk Out’ got the crowd bouncing before two stools appeared in the middle of the stage and Nuno donned an acoustic guitar joking that this song was too early in the set but as they were playing through the album ‘More Than Words’ was next on the list.
Unfortunately the first of many technical glitches meant a delay whilst the guitar lead was changed. Once the problems were sorted Nuno was joined by Gary and the whole of the crowd for a great rendition of the classic track. It was also one of the few moments of the night when the sound was loud but clear.
As the rest of the band reappeared and launched into ‘Money (In God We Trust)’ the sound once again deteriorated. More technical issues again delayed the set before ‘Pornograffitti’ as the bass drum mic collapsed. This, however, led to Nuno cranking out the riff to Queen’s ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ before being joined by Gary on vocals bringing to mind the band’s triumphant set at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert all those years ago at Wembley.
‘When I First Kissed You’ brought things down a notch and actually proved to be a bit of a dirge live although Nuno’s keyboard skills were first class. The highlight of the night though was when Nuno was back on guitar and played a blinding version of ‘Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee’, note perfect, his hands were a blur on the fret board. ‘He-Man Womenhater’, Song For Love’ and ‘Hole Hearted’, which included a snatch of ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, rounded off the album and the main set.
The guys reappeared to the drum intro for ‘Play With Me’ before Nuno joined in with the staccato riff. The continuing sound issues meant that it took the crowd a minute or so to recognise what song was being played. ‘Rest In Peace’ was more instantly recognisable but by this point some people were heading for the doors having given up on any hope of the sound improving. ‘Am I Ever Gonna Change’ from the ‘III Sides To Every Story’ album was a surprise inclusion but went down well.
Nuno then took centre stage again for a run through of ‘Midnight Express’ before the set was rounded off with ‘Color Me Blind’ and ‘Cupid’s Dead’ but by this time many were already on the road home.
The sound issues and technical glitches dominated the night’s proceedings but even without them the performance appeared to me to be forced and I got the impression that if it wasn’t for the money the four guys wouldn’t be sharing the same stage.
It was hard to think of this being the same band (almost!) who owned Wembley Stadium all those years ago with such an entertaining performance. If the reunion continues may I suggest that the comeback album is entitled ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’?
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
Photo Gallery by Steve Goudie
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Power Plays w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)
BLOCK BUSTER Losing Gravity (Frontiers)
WATCH ME BREATHE Don’t Think I Haven’t Thought About It (The Label Group/INGrooves)
FIRES OF FREYA Take A Bow (indie)
BLACK STAR RIDERS Underneath The Afterglow (Nuclear Blast)
STOMPIN’ HEAT Shiny Curly Red Hair (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 THE DEFIANTS Zokusho (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CORELEONI II (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 TONY McLOUGHLIN True Native (Fuego)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
BAD COMPANY Company Of Strangers (1995)
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